Being a teenager is not easy, and the holiday season can cause a lot of stress and unhappiness for many young people who are unhappy or suffering from a loss. KidsPeace created TeenCentral.Net in 1998 to give teens a safe place to tell their stories, receive good advice from experienced counselors and learn about others who have had similar experiences. With more than 490,000 registered members, TeenCentral.Net has a tremendous following and offers new features all the time to keep the site fresh and interesting. There is also now a Facebook page for fans of TeenCentral.Net that contains frequent posts about what is occurring on the site.
For those who have never visited TeenCentral.Net, the site is visually appealing to teens and contains a large variety of subject matter to appeal to youth from around the country and around the world. The site is totally anonymous and constantly monitored to ensure that no identifying information is posted by any members. Teens write posts about what is bothering them or just what is on their minds and submit these posts for review by TeenCentral.Net volunteers and counselors. Each submission is answered with encouragement and advice for the member who wrote, and all posts and responses are reviewed by a Master's level counselor before being posted. Other teen members respond to posts with their own observations or advice, and these replies are also reviewed by Master's level counselors before being posted. The result is a community of teens from urban and rural areas, a variety of lifestyles but a common theme of trying to overcome the problems of growing up.
The Director of TeenCentral.Net from its inception, Dr. Julius Licata, observes that this time of year sees an increase of postings by teens who may not be anticipating the holidays. "There are teens who have lost parents or other loved ones, whose parents have divorced, who have moved, who are having peer relationship difficulties, are depressed, are in foster care, have eating disorders or substance abuse issues or are members of families facing hard economic times. The holiday season seems to intensify their negative feelings, and they write down how they feel and seek empathy and encouragement." According to Licata, TeenCentral.Net counselors are prepared to respond to as many postings as the site receives, sharing their precious holiday time with teens in need.
TeenCentral.Net also contains many features to keep teen visitors engaged, including celebrity stories about overcoming adversity to become successful later in life, a weight awareness section, recommendations of books that are aimed at the age group, helplines for emergencies, news that is relevant to teens and a page to help visitors stop smoking. All of this information is free to teens, and there is even a section for parents who are concerned about their children to seek advice. TeenCentral.Net is funded by contributions and grants, and Licata is hopeful that generous donors will remember this wonderful service to teens in their holiday giving.